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Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2010 Nov;12(6):359-67. doi: 10.1007/s11883-010-0137-0.

Alpha-linolenic acid: is it essential to cardiovascular health?

Author information

1
Division of Human Nutrition, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands. marianne.geleijnse@wur.nl

Abstract

There is a large body of scientific evidence that has been confirmed in randomized controlled trials indicating a cardioprotective effect for omega-3 fatty acids from fish. For alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is the omega-3 fatty acid from plants, the relation to cardiovascular health is less clear. We reviewed the recent literature on dietary ALA intake, ALA tissue concentrations, and cardiovascular health in humans. Short-term trials (6-12 weeks) in generally healthy participants mostly showed no or inconsistent effects of ALA intake (1.2-3.6 g/d) on blood lipids, low-density lipoprotein oxidation, lipoprotein(a), and apolipoproteins A-I and B. Studies of ALA in relation to inflammatory markers and glucose metabolism yielded conflicting results. With regard to clinical cardiovascular outcomes, there is observational evidence for a protective effect against nonfatal myocardial infarction. However, no protective associations were observed between ALA status and risk of heart failure, atrial fibrillation, and sudden death. Findings from long-term trials of ALA supplementation are awaited to answer the question whether food-based or higher doses of ALA could be important for cardiovascular health in cardiac patients and the general population.

PMID:
20814766
PMCID:
PMC2943064
DOI:
10.1007/s11883-010-0137-0
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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